Are We Losing Our Culture?

Are We Losing Our Culture?

Once upon a time, there was a sage. He spent many years meditating in isolation. One day, he saw a lost, hungry kitten standing at his doorstep and fed it some milk. As would be expected, that cat soon became a regular. And then it got even more friendly and would prawl around his house. And then it went too far – the cat started disturbing him during his meditation. So now he would tie the cat before he meditated.

Years passed and someone found this sage, was touched deeply by him and brought other people. Soon, he had a set of disciples. And then one day, he died. The disciples continued to follow his teachings. One fateful day, his cat died.

That was it. The whole ashram was immersed in chaos, people frustrated, lost, arguing, because now they had to find the ‘right’ cat, without which it would be impossible to start their meditation – after all, tying the cat was the first step!

This sums up culture for you.

And it is a pity, Because if you were paying attention, you would have realised that the initial message is completely lost in this quest to maintain ‘tradition’. What we do in the name of tradition often defiles and violates the very thing we set out to protect.

There have been many protests in India thanks to a system going through a transition. And while some traditions have been targetted by vested interests, most have been questioned for the right reasons. Unfortunately, people are so busy trying to find the cat, that they’ve forgotten the philosophy at the very core of our culture: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. (One world, one family)

One of the biggest drawbacks of Indian culture as I observed it growing up, was this drastic lack of a sense of personal space. People on the train could ask you if you were married, why not, how many children, and how much money you earned. All before bestowing you with precious advice about how you should live your life. Distant aunts tried to determine who should marry you. But all was OK, because ultimately, it was Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. You were never alone. You could walk in to a stranger’s house and they would give you food and a place to stay. Those people on the train would share their lunch with you before doling out their advice. They would fight for you if someone tried to take your seat. They cared for you as if you were their family – and they felt justified in advising you (and probably even abusing you), in the same spirit.

Now there’s no family. We don’t even smile at strangers, let alone sharing lunch with them, we’re more likely to be spectators if someone gets hurt, than actually reach out and help. Hell, in my apartment, even friends stand back and watch with glee as you get into a fist-fight with someone else. I’m talking about adults.

We’ve given up the idea of one world, one family, but we refuse to give up the privilege of intruding upon others’ lives. We want our right to keep others awake at night, without ever investing in them. We want to pollute the air they breathe in the name of celebration, because we don’t care about the breathing difficulties their children have – after all, it won’t be us sitting by the bedside or rushing the child to the hospital, so who cares?

Are we being forced to give up our culture? Truth is we flushed it down the drain eons ago. Simple things like wearing a tilak or bindi – something that is meant to protect us from loss of energy, we don’t bother with. Brahmins aren’t supposed to leave their hair open/ loose – but not very fashionable, so who cares? And they make more money as an engineer so all that sadhana they were supposed to do daily can wait till retirement. And they were never supposed to cross an ocean, and somehow nobody protested when that rule was conveniently forgotten. But Diwali fireworks? Ooohhh no no, Goddess Lakshmi must be pleased on all accounts, even if it kills someone. Doesn’t matter if this practice was mainly done to drive away insects, using harmless chemicals and in much smaller numbers. Who cares for the real reason, this is our culture, right? We must save the wrapping paper while we dispose off with the gift. We will replace real diyas with electric lights, that doesn’t corrupt our culture. We will buy sweets, oh we’ll even use cakes and ice-creams to celebrate, instead of making sweets at home – because that used to be a celebration of togetherness, everyone cooked together, where’s the together now? Husband-wife and a toddler? But fire-works? Without this there’s no Diwali, because this is all Diwali is about.

Hindu culture in my understanding, is all about letting the God/Goddess reside within. That is why we live in a country full of roadside temples, as a constant reminder of that fact. But it looks like we’ve still forgotten. When houses were far away from each other, when a village was mostly just one extended family where nobody celebrated if a person was sick, dying or recently deceased, it was completely fine to make all the noise they wanted. Pollution was OK because we were barely a tenth of our current population and density. Thnigs are different today. And if anything, Hindu culture has been about adaptation – it is how we survived centuries of invasions and conversions. So if you protest the removal of a practice that is hurting people, then you’ve forgotten your culture.

P.S. The story I began with, no idea who to credit this with as it is a story my father used to tell me in childhood. May have been Osho’s, who knows.. he used to read a lot of Osho back then.

P.P.S.: If you think  bursting crackers doesn’t her anyone, try talking to someone who has asthma and ask them if they agree.

Why We Attract Negativity

Why We Attract Negativity

“Good things happen to good people”

I have often wondered if there’s a bigger lie than that. Or a more ruinous one.

All the fairy tales we’re told as children, tell us how the innocent, good and the brave live ‘happily ever after’ and the demons are killed. Our parents often reward us for good behaviour and we’re punished for our misdemeanors. And this makes us want to be ‘good people’. Not for the sake of being good, but because we want the benefits of being good.

‘Spiritual’ people often have it worse. Most people on the spiritual pathway want to be ‘good’ people to fit in with the stereotype. Many of us genuinely believe that being positive and happy and accepting of life is how a spiritual person is supposed to be, and strive to get there. Then why do we end up being surrounded by ‘negative’, ‘toxic’, and ‘narcissistic’ people? When we seem to have the capacity to attract whatever we want, how is it that the negative people still seem to seep in?

Because we want to be good people.

Our mind only understands the value of things through comparison. For example, when compared to a homeless person, our life looks very plush. But when we meet a person who owns a jet, suddenly we seem to be living drab, meaningless lives. Neither of the ideas of our lives is the truth – if we tried to assess the true status of our life, it would be very hard if there was no benchmark. The mind needs something to measure things against.

The Paradox

Now, to be surrounded by deeply loving, kind, generous and brilliant people sounds like a wonderful thing, but the gratitude for such a life is quickly going to fade once the comparisons come in to the picture. If everyone around us is a better person than us, then we eventually become the not-so-good person. We’re the lazy one, the dull or the slow one, the negative one – in comparison. But we’ve grown to believe that to get the best things from life, we need to be ‘good’ people!

So what’s the easiest way to become a ‘good’ person? To simply change the benchmark we’re comparing against. The moment we are surrounded by negative, horrible people, we can immediately relax in the knowing that we’re good, and therefore our future is secure – because only good things happen to good people. Of course, this happens at a subconscious level, none of us consciously wants to be surrounded by who we think are bad people. And yet that is exactly what we end up with.

Let go of the labels

When we crib or complain about a person, if we bring our attention to how we’re really feeling about ourselves, we can start shifting things around. Really deep work will even reveal how we want people to hurt or let us down so that we can continue making them ‘the bad guys’.

Working with our shadows and integrating them goes a long way in this direction too. There is no such thing as a good person or bad person. Not only are these terms relative, but we’re all a mix of both, yin and yang. Whether we choose to call it good-bad, spiritual-unspiritual, conscious-unconscious, empath-narcissist or anything else, we’re getting into the same pattern – that of comparison. On the other hand if we view everything and everyone as a celebration of life, and if we realise that nothing is ever really as it seems, we dislodge ourselves from this mess and become truly free.

 

Are You ‘Settling’ for a Mediocre Life?

Are You ‘Settling’ for a Mediocre Life?

Happiness does not lie 'out there'

Almost every other day, I come across some article or person urging others to go out there and live life or follow your heart. Common people seem to be stuck in the rat race, miserable and incapable of having a life between paying off loans and raising children.

This reminds me of my mother’s Reiki teacher, who was a school teacher by profession. One year when they had exchange students come from the UK, they decided to do something different. The students were picked up from the airport and dropped off in the middle of the desert to live with locals in a below-poverty village. There were no toilets, they used broken pots for cooking, vessels were cleaned with sand and meals consisted of dry rotis (flat bread) with red chili chutney. Two weeks later when the school came to pick the children up, the children started crying, saying they didn’t want to go home. Never before in their plush, abundant lives had they experienced love, affection and bonding like this.

What did the village have that these rich British kids did not? What did they have that you do not? How could they be happy with so much less than you have?

While breaking free and pursuing one’s dreams just might be the answer for a select few that have lived oppressed lives in the fear of rejection from society, the fundamental problem in that approach is that it assumes that happiness lies outside. In a relationship, in a career, in material pleasures, in a new place. And that belief puts you on a fast track to misery. The more choices you have, the more miserable you are going to be, because you don’t know ‘which choice will make you happy’. If only you knew that the answer was ‘none’.

Choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfiedMore details

Barry Schwartz

When not to Settle

While on the one hand people don’t want to ‘settle’ for mediocre lives, on the other they want to ‘take a chance’ on mediocre choices. Our generation was raised by over-involved parents, and most of us have refused to grow up and own up for our lives. If we invest our energies in growing up, we will start to see that each action has a consequence, and that will change the way we approach a fork in the road.

What choice we make isn’t about whether it will make us happy in the future – happiness is a choice we make this instant – but about what the consequences will be, and whether we can live with that. I’ve seen so many people settle for a lousy partner because they’re too afraid to be alone. Or settle for having a baby because of parental or societal pressure. Or move to an unpleasant place because they’re desperate to ‘get away’ from family or something else. These are exactly times when we shouldn’t be ‘settling’.

Don’t settle when life brings you to crossroads. If you are desperate and frustrated, seek healing and understand that getting into a different situation will offer only temporary respite, if at all.

When “Settling” is Important

We’re not just talking about relationships here, of course. But this quote is just so, so relevant. Once you’ve made a choice, stick with the consequences and make peace with where the choice has taken you. When you truly make peace with it, it is possible that looking at those beautiful couple or travel pictures on facebook or elsewhere might leave you a tad uneasy, but never will it empty out your heart of happiness.

So many people want to change their lives so desperately that they just cannot give the present moment their best. This is the same as being so unsure whether you’re on the right track, that you are unable to walk. But unless you move, you’re not going anywhere. If you are meant to have a different life, it will happen, and life will bring opportunities and openings your way. If you’re feeling stuck and frustrated in a completely unfulfilling life, it is time to understand that it is not life that is unfulfilling, but you who have stopped investing. Embrace your life for what it is in this moment and give it everything you’ve got. And that’s how you live.

If you think it’s fame and money that are the key to happiness, you’re not alone – but, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, having unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction here are three important lessonsMore details

Robert Waldinger

Want to be Truly Alive? Read This!

Want to be Truly Alive? Read This!

Are you as alive as you want to be?

Before the advent of television and the internet, people were content with boring, limited, mundane lives. But today our lives are bombarded with videos and images of the excitement in other peoples’ lives and when we look at our own, it usually looks awfully pale in comparison.

Every one of us has a friend who travels extensively and has spectacular photographs as a testimonial for time well spent. Or that friend who tries a new restaurant or pub every weekend and maybe even gets paid to review. Or that one who whips up delicacy after delicacy, even their children’s lunchboxes looking like they’re straight out of Masterchef. Or that one with the perfect figure/ body, who seems to run every marathon and can do a hundred push-ups. Basically, that one friend who is truly living.

And we wonder. Between my work and home routine, between helping with homework/ changing diapers and navigating traffic and deadlines, how do I find the space and time to fit LIFE in? It is an impossible pursuit, one akin to the moth flying into the flame, for the stress that such a desire causes will in itself ruin one’s health – possibly the one last thing still unaffected.

What is ‘Truly Alive’ Anyway?

As I see it, there are two kinds of people. There are those who collect things, and there are those who collect experiences. There is probably a third category that pines for both, but lets not go there.

Until recently, most people belonged to the former category. Now more and more belong to the second, believing it to be somehow superior to the former. Maybe it is, too – after all, buying a Ferrari does little to truly enhance who you are as a person, but spending a few days volunteering or traveling solo can shift something deep inside.

But there is something common between both these categories of people. They are both chasing, trying to run away from the empty, dreary realities of their lives. They are really no different from you, it is just that their runaway vehicle looks a lot more attractive. If anything, they’re probably a little less ‘alive’ than you are, because their need to fill up their lives with excitement is far greater than yours.

Why complicate ‘truly alive’?

Truly alive is not about how exciting your life is, it is simply how alive you are in every moment. Spiritually unconscious people ‘feel’ alive when awestruck, and errantly confuse that with being alive.

When you feel the flow of water on your skin as you do the dishes, you are being fully alive. You are not, if you are instead preoccupied with thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow. When you are playing with your child and watching his or her every expression instead of looking at your phone, you are being truly alive. When you appreciate the setting sun or that driver who courteously let someone pass as you drive home, instead of cribbing about traffic times, you are being alive. While waiting at the bus stop, if you allow yourself to be captivated by the ‘mundane’ scene life presents to you instead of getting bored, you know that you are truly, truly alive.

The sages and monks sealed themselves inside a little cave for a reason – because when you are really participating, even staring at a dimly lit wall is a blissful, magical experience.

Stop trying to run after experiences. Be truly alive, participate in every moment, no matter how boring or routine your mind might claim it to be. It is after all, the only way to live!

Have You Given Your Child This Privilege?

Have You Given Your Child This Privilege?

Just one among many billion children
Just one among many billion children

The sacred Hindu texts state that the only real obligation parents have to a child is to bring it into this world. Every other obligation is from the child towards the parent because even with a lifetime of seva, the child cannot repay the debt for that one big thing the parents did for it, viz., give it an entry point into this world.

When heard an Indian ascetic tell me this for the first time, I was furious. To me it was like saying that all the bad parenting was fine! However, now when I think of it at leisure I think parent-‘crimes’ apart, there might actually have  been some truth to this statement.

Every other day I read something along the lines of ‘what if you’re so busy earning money that you miss your child’s first steps?‘ – or something like that anyway. Yes, what if? How come I never read ‘what if you’re so busy at work that you missed your wife crying at home because your mother said something nasty?‘ Because your wife is not your ‘creation’ of course, and that by default makes her less special and less worthwhile.

Can you imagine how boring it might have been to be born about 60-70 years ago? You would be one among 4-7 children, nobody would know when you took those coveted first steps, had that first scratch, first fight, balanced on a cycle for the first time, and so on. Because you were probably playing outside with all the other kids everyday, since mommy asked you to ‘take the noise outside!’. When you fell, it was probably a sibling, a neighbour or even a stranger that might have helped. And surprise, the world would not have tweeted about this non-event and about your parents’ negligence.

Because that generation had one thing straight – that your child is just one among billions (only about 3 billion, yours will live to be one among 10 by the way). Your child is not the queen bee, just one among billions of worker bees – all unique but really no different from each other. Yes, they knew that they – you – are completely ordinary. And, more than anything else – they knew there was nothing wrong with being ordinary.

What a beautiful, liberating fact that must have been, to grow up with. That nothing is THAT special. Not your baby’s first steps, not your wedding, your first day at work, the first day of the year, because all of these are just another pearl in a gigantic string of events all equally special, or equally ordinary.

This is unfortunately a privilege our children might never have, because they grow up in a world where one has to market oneself to get anywhere and for that, the first prerequisite is a firm belief in a big lie – that one is somehow different, more special than everyone else.

Add to that the fact that they were probably born because their parents needed something to bring more value to their otherwise paling lives, and needed some hope that a little addition will bring that ‘special’ factor in. So they spend the entire childhood letting their life revolve around the child, packing it a different snack everyday, spending hours making it that special birthday cake, fulfilling every desire and leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that it has access to everything that it needs to become its special self.

Barring the abusive type, this is absolutely the worst type of upbringing a child can have. Because one can eventually have therapy to heal from the pain of abuse, but it will take a lot more than that to outgrow this sense of entitlement we’ve given our children. They will spend the rest of their lives moving from place to place, from job to job, relationship to relationship because none of them will make them feel special enough. They might spend their whole lifetime discovering that their entire existence was a lie – they are not special at all. In fact, no one cares.

And actually, people care a lot less today. One, because we are addicted to ‘special’ and the mundane is not care-worthy, but more importantly, because we were never taught to give unless there was some sort of reward. We were praised for every little insignificant thing we did. And suddenly in the real world, the boss, the spouse, the child or the mother-in-law don’t seem to acknowledge anything.

We weren’t taught that everything has to be earned, and that sometimes even after putting in everything you could, you will still fail, and that sometimes you will simply never get that one thing you wanted, and that that’s ok, and you can still be VERY happy anyway.

There is a simple secret to a happy life – one must give more than one takes. But our children might have to go through a great deal of hardship and suffering to come to realise this, because we have left them with so, so much more to unlearn first.

Hatred: What’s Your excuse?

Hatred: What’s Your excuse?

The best way to defeat an opponent is to get him agitated.
In martial arts, it is well known that you are more likely to lose if you are angry or hateful.

My spiritual teacher uses a word called ‘projection’ quite frequently. Obviously, it is not the same thing we learned in school. Projection is when we ‘project’ our own suppressed aspects onto others, and then proceed to label them.

Like for example, a person who never gets angry hasn’t acknowledged or integrated his own fear. Such a person will find himself surrounded by angry people – people that he is ‘projecting’ his anger onto. When he resolves his issues with anger, the problem will miraculously subside and in cases where it does not, it wont bother him anymore.

In our perfection-obsessed world, we refuse to acknowledge negative emotions, the worst of which is hatred and violence. We condemn any acts of violence and hatred, often trolling such a person and dousing them with…. hatred and violence.

And Eye for an Eye…

When there is a war, no one wins. Lives are lost and both sides mourn. And yet, war is what we crave for, as is apparent from the outpourings of hatred on social media. We want war. We want destruction. It is what draws us, it is what we thrive on. Can you imagine going a week without feeling indignant or looking down upon someone stupid, does that ever happen? Wouldn’t it be boring if it would?

Any kind of altercation leaves both sides wounded. In the very least, you have poisoned your body with nasty hormones that’ll eventually make you sick. In the worst case, it will ruin someone’s life or leave someone dead.

We are Just Like Them

We believe ourselves to be in a better place because we haven’t shot anyone, but do we really think we wouldn’t want anyone killed? Think again. Would we mind if we were told that maybe, 250 ISIS people died in a bombing. Would we lose sleep over that? No, because they ‘deserved’ to be dead.

It is this idea of ‘deserved’, that we use to justify hatred. A nice bubble we use to protect our fragile little egos. When someone talks about hurting a dog, we want that person to be treated like a dog. And we think we’re different. When someone rapes someone, we want that person to be castrated, and we think we’re different.

Why aren’t we really different? Because we believe in an eye for an eye. And the fact is, we’re very different from these ‘criminals’. We’ve grown up in very different set-ups, different economic backgrounds, different social situations, different exposure to abuse and maybe even different religions. But we share one thing with them. An eye for an eye. So when those people get abused, they want to hit back, in any way they can. So do you.

When someone causes someone else pain, you want to see them in pain too. If you had experienced the same level of injustice and trauma as the perpetrators, would you really have been any different from them? You don’t have any patience with injustice, living your cushy, comfortable lives. How would it have existed when you were broken repeatedly by others?

What’s the Solution?

Whenever I say that you cannot counter hatred with hatred, people assume that it also means there must be no action. It is not the same at all.

In many forms of martial arts, it is a well known fact that an opponent feeling intense anger or hatred is not stronger, but weaker. These emotions cloud our thinking. Only one who can remain calm can truly retaliate, because he is able to properly utilize all his faculties.

If we merely remind ourselves that people resort to violence when they have been subjected to so much of it that it changes their thresholds, we might want to think differently, and not worsen the problem by subjecting them to even more violence.

When Kiran Bedi took over Tihar jail, many prisoners who were repeat offenders stopped coming back to jail. When asked what caused the change, they quipped “Kiran Bedi treated us like human beings. We had forgotten that we were human”.

When we see something violent or stupid, the reaction it creates within us is nothing but our reaction to the unaccepted negativity within our own  selves. Don’t use random news articles as an excuse to hate. Let us review the way we react to violence. Be the change. Be kind.

Why Our Children are Dying Young

Why Our Children are Dying Young

I seldom read the news. And yet somehow the news of yet another child killing himself or herself reaches my ears. It saddens me, but I am barely surprised.

And again today I came across another article where a worried parent compassionately writes to others how to ensure we minimize the risk of our children killing themselves as a result of bullying. And somehow, no one else seems to see anything wrong with any of this.

Face It, We’re Screwing Up

One of the most scariest trends I see today is the desire to be perfect. And far worse than this is the desire to be a perfect parent. Seldom are we willing to admit that we’re failing at parenting. And children learn not from what you say, but from what you do. When children watch parents deny their own imperfections, they deny their own. And this is very, very dangerous.

Was it Always Like This?

Now let us take a step back and see how our predecessors survived. If you know anyone from your parents’ generation that stayed in a hostel through college, ask them about their stories of getting ragged. They’re quite terrifying. But what took me many years to digest is that they’re very good friends with many of those who tormented them, friendships often spanning decades.

Ask your mothers and grandmothers about how their relationship with their in-laws were. I even heard about a woman recently whose husband used to physically abuse her for decades, still emotionally abuses her, and yet she’s happy, healthy and cheerful at 85. No diseases, no signs of trauma. How did a generation like that raise youngsters who need antidepressants because they failed an exam or ended a 2-month long relationship?

Our parents and grandparents grew up with minimal parenting. They learned hands on that the world is a harsh place, getting bullied is common, people have good AND bad sides, and all of this has to be dealt with by oneself – support is seldom there. And they grew a spine.

Children Need Us Less, not More

We have so few kids now a days, and out of such a feeling of lack, that we hold on to them with our dear lives. Every scary piece of news makes us hold on to them harder, thinking that if we’re around enough, they’ll be safe.

In the comments below the article I mentioned, I was so disappointed to find parents saying things like ‘yes, we need to stand up for our children’. Why? Because you forgot to teach them how to stand up for themselves, right? Right. Because you were always there. Because you never let them handle things on their own. Because they always had support, they never felt the need to walk, let alone stand by themselves.

Incidentally, almost all the people I’ve met so far who tried to kill themselves before they turned 25 had parents that were around too much.

The Biggest Curse: ‘My Child Shouldn’t Suffer’

Parents today interfere and do their very best to ensure that their child does not experience any discomfort. Now, we learn best as children. Children that experience a moderate amount of difficulty learn that the world offers both joys and sorrows, and that that is OK. Children who never experience problems until they hit their teens have their bubble suddenly shatter and they have absolutely no idea how to cope. I’ve even seen clients who developed serious mental disorders because they couldn’t digest how harsh the world was.

Is it really a wonder they want to kill themselves? What would you do if you believed for 15 years that the world is a beautiful place, only to suddenly realise that it was more like hell, and that people enjoy hatred more than love. Would you want to continue living?

When we domesticate animals, they become incapable of surviving in the wild. We’re domesticating our children. How will they survive?

Learn to Introspect – The Right Way

Learn to Introspect – The Right Way

Introspection is a wonderful tool available to a spiritual aspirant. When done right, it can lead quite directly to deeply peaceful states.

The intellect has long been celebrated in modern society and this is especially true of the current generation. We judge people based on their IQ, their opinions and their academic qualification. The intellect has been reduced to a tool that serves the ego and consequently, introspection is an exercise in the same direction.

What is Introspection?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines introspection as “a reflective looking inward :  an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings“. It takes us in two directions – one can either examine one’s thoughts, or one’s feelings. The former is much more popular. And a much bigger waste of time.

Introspection on Thoughts

The ego is nothing but a set of mental structures which we use to construct or define our identity. Whenever something happens that disturbs or challenges this identity, it gives rise to unpleasant feelings. In a bid to avoid facing these feelings, the mind starts moving in circles, giving rise to thought after thought, theory after theory. Any mental introspection therefore gives rise to transient theories which support the current illusion we are witnessing.

This is not to say that happy moments are any different. Pleasant feelings arise when the identity is reinforced, and in such a case the mind runs in circles in a bid to make this state permanent, coming up with theories and ways to extend this feeling.

So in either case, mental introspection is futile because it tries to consider permanent something that is ever-changing.

Introspection on Feelings

On the other hand if we simply look inward, something that can be equated to pratyahara, the fifth step on the eight-fold journey in Ashtanga yoga, we slowly learn to rest in the realisation that everything is impermanent.

Instead of running with the mind, if we turn our attention to the feelings in our heart and sensations in our body, introspection becomes free from the shackles of the mind. Initially it might be helpful to label what we are feeling – ‘I am feeling angry/ sad/ rejected’ or ‘there is a tightness in my chest/ throbbing in my knee’ but with practice one experiences these things deeply enough that no word can do justice to what we are experiencing.

So?

The mind is a wonderful, extremely powerful tool. It is what separates man from all the other beings through the capacity to rationalise, plan and analyse. However, most of us have lived a life where it is not us who controls the mind, but the mind is controlling us, revolving around pointless topics and leaving us with no energy for productive activity.

Introspecting on one’s feelings lifts the veil of the mind-created stories from our eyes and brings us a clearer version of reality. A focus on feelings also helps us bypass the analytical mind and tackles restlessness at its root cause, thereby eliminating the deep-seated, subconscious fear of feelings – which is really the secret to lasting peace.

How Special Are You?

How Special Are You?

It is not a new concept anymore to just rest in the moment, thanks to the popularity of Eckhart Tolle. Maybe also Zen. And when we start to rest more and more in the moment, perspectives can shift quite drastically.

One of those perspectives is of how special one is. Undeniably, each one of us is special and unique, although many of the times most of us can’t wrap our heads around this.

The need to be special is almost basic. Just imagine for a moment, that you are dying, at the end of a long, healthy life. A life that was completely ordinary. You were nothing special. You did nothing remarkable. You’re just completely, utterly ordinary. How would that make you feel? If you realised that that was exactly how your end would be, would you want to continue your life as it is?

Ordinary is unacceptable. So unacceptable, in fact, that even parents refuse to accept ordinary children. There is a constant need to prove to themselves and the world that their child is ‘special’, better than others. That all the difficulties they’ve endured to raise this little human being has been worthwhile.

Children are highly intelligent, and very quickly sense that if they aren’t special, their parents might not really want them. We’ve all sensed it. This kicks off a life-long pattern of trying to be special. Some become special positively, through creative pursuits, academic excellence, kindness and similar things. Others become special in the opposite way, through disobedience, aggression and failure. In either case, they are different, special, worth talking about to every guest. Not ordinary. Not boring.

What an illusion this is, and oh, how it destroys us. Look into the mirror, look into your eyes. You’re looking into the eyes of one among 7 billion of your species on one planet. It is like an ant or a bee thinking that there may be many in the nest, but IT is special, unique. And it is. And you and I, we’re just as special as that little snail you might have crushed under your foot on your morning jog. Or that little stone your step on as you get out of your house. Or that drop of water that slides down your umbrella and slips into the drain. Just as special. Not more. Not less.

No two things in nature are identical. You have no duplicate, but then neither does anything else. And if only, if only we could embrace that ordinary-ness and accept the fact that we may be special but we’re also just as ordinary as absolutely everything else, we would realise that ordinary has an incomparable beauty. Every single moment, every single object, every single living being is so full of beauty and wonder, that life cannot possibly be ‘ordinary’ any more.

Life Not Giving You What You Want? Do This

Life Not Giving You What You Want? Do This

Success is a state of mind
Success is a state of mind

In a profession like mine, there is a tendency after a point to think that one has seen it all. After all, what could remain, after coming across stories of wonderful, loving people and tyrannical, sadistic ones and all the variety in between? And then I sat one day, looking into the eyes of a beautiful client.
How may I help you?
Something is wrong with me, I’m too satisfied in life. Can you help?”
What!?

On inquiring further I discovered that she was a happy person. That was the problem. Everyone around her told her that she needed to be ambitious,  have desires, and refuse to be happy until those desires were fulfilled. Problem was she was already happy. How to fix that? Because of course, happiness is a waste of time, it stands in the way of you getting things.

And then there is the other extreme. A woman came the other day, upset that she had been unsuccessful in finding a life partner for 15 years and asking if I could help fix it. Fifteen years. She’s not the only one life isn’t obliging, there are so many of us like that. We’ve tried everything, but it still doesn’t happen. Our lives are perfect, save for that one missing detail. That one last thing that can make us truly happy.

What if You Were Happy?

We refuse to be happy until we get what we want. We are ‘happy’ otherwise, we argue, but we’d be happiER if this happened. But is this happiness real? This woman told me how she really did make the most of her single status, traveling the world and doing everything being married might not leave her time for. But does this qualify if one stands atop a mountain beholding a marvelous view, thinking ‘I wish I had someone to share this with’? How’s that happiness? It is really us telling the universe that we refuse to feel entirely happy until we are given exactly what we want.

Because we got more from our parents when we were upset, we’re afraid that if we’re truly happy in life, we might not get what we want. Life doesn’t functions like our parents. Tears cannot be used to blackmail life.

For anyone who has been chasing something for a long, long time, I’d suggest one exercise. Imagine you are dying. And as you lie in your death-bed at a ripe old age, you realise that you never got that one thing you sought all your life. That life partner, that baby, that grand-child, that house, that position, that car. It was never meant to happen. And you realise that you spent the last 10, 20, or 50 years pining for that one thing, refusing to be entirely happy. Would you want to change anything?

Your True Divine Purpose

Today’s pseudo-spirituality has led many to believe that they have a ‘special‘ role to play in the world, a divine purpose designed for them by God, to make the most of them. In reality, you have only one real divine purpose. You are the universe, trying to experience what it is like, to be YOU.

Instead of fulfilling your divine purpose however, you chase. You want to be someone else. A wife, a mother, a father, a boss, a teacher, or someone who owns something. Anything BUT who you are at the moment, because that is not good enough. If not good enough is how you feel, then being not good enough is your most divine purpose at the moment. When we refuse to settle into being who we are, and chase instead after something else, we realise when we are dying that we’ve failed miserably – and then we proceed to recreate the same reality, only a slightly tougher version of it so that we cannot run away this time. And this is what gives birth to multi-life patterns.

Your Life is Perfect

Nobody ever comes to me and tells me that their problem is ordinary and common-place. One woman even offered to pay me to prioritize healing for her son’s exams over everything else, not realising that I might be healing dying people and that they may be more important. Your problem is the biggest to you, always.

But life isn’t meant to be complete or perfect. There is always something missing. In your life, it is this, whatever you have been chasing. The five elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether, the void. Without a void your life ISN’T actually complete! So the very thing that makes your life incomplete is that which balances your life and makes it whole. If you can just surrender to that and promise yourself that life is worth enjoying and experiencing fully, you will find in every moment that happiness which you have been chasing after forever.